The Law Decoded: Virginia (beta test)

A lot of “law & tech” endeavors often widen the gap between the legal haves and have-nots (think “digital dead end“), but this Law Decoded project (in progress) shows real promise, in addition to having a high cool factor, which never hurts. And even if it stalls, the intention, to make the law truly readable and “accessible” to all, should never be forgotten or lost in that legal-tech forest where you find a plethora of fancier A2J endeavors.

Discover the Code of Virginia: THE LAWS OF VIRGINIA, FOR NON-LAWYERS.

Virginia Decoded provides the Code of Virginia on one friendly website. Inline definitions, cross-references, bulk downloads, a modern API, and all of the niceties of modern website design. It’s like the expensive software lawyers use, but free and wonderful….” [Link to Virginia Decoded.]

Law Libraries and Access to Justice, AALL Special Committee on Access to Justice 2014 Report

LAW LIBRARIES AND ACCESS TO JUSTICE, A Report of the American Association of Law Libraries, Special Committee on Access to Justice, July 2014

AALL’s new white paper, Law Libraries and Access to Justice: A Report of the American Association of Law Libraries Special Committee on Access to Justice, is now available on AALLNET. The white paper is the work of AALL’s 2013-14 Access to Justice Special Committee, chaired by Sara Galligan, and explores how all types of law libraries – including private; state, court, and county; and academic – contribute to the ATJ movement.

As AALL Past President Steven P. Anderson noted in his introduction, “As the principal providers of legal information, law libraries are an indispensable part of the services that can be provided to those with legal needs. Law libraries make “The Law” available, and law librarians serve as guides to finding the most relevant legal information.” The white paper explains the myriad ways law libraries can contribute to the administration of an effective ATJ system and successfully work with others on the front lines of ATJ.” [Link to a PDF of the full Report.]

Project Nanny Van (Open Law Lab)

Project Nanny Van: a legal service design

“Project Nanny Van is an excellent new example of creative legal service design…this mobile van that [goes] to locations where nannies might be congregating, and provides them with resources about their legal rights — as well as other resources to empower them.

See more Open Law Lab ideas.

Why People Don’t Ask for Legal Help: It’s Not Just About Money

From the ABA Foundation: “Part of access to justice gap is that Americans don’t know when to seek legal help, says study,” Aug 8, 2014, by James Podgers:

Link to report: ACCESSING JUSTICE IN THE CONTEMPORARY USA: FINDINGS FROM THE COMMUNITY NEEDS AND SERVICES STUDY

Executive Summary …
….
Typically, people handled these situations on their own. For only about a fifth (22%) of situations did they seek assistance from a third party outside their immediate social network, such as a lawyer, social worker, police officer, city agency, religious leader or elected official. When people who did not seek any assistance from third parties outside their social circles were asked if cost was one barrier to doing so, they reported that concerns about cost were a factor in 17% of cases. A more important reason that people do not seek assistance with these situations, in particular assistance from lawyers or courts, is that they do not understand these situations to be legal....”  [Read the Executive Summary and full report.]

Contrast with this previous Oregon Legal Research blog post: “People don’t want to talk to lawyers, but they really want legal advice.”

And read more A2J information at the ABA Resource Center for Access to Justice Initiatives.

 

Judicial Funding Cuts Inflict Widespread Economic Harm in Communities

ABA Journal News: Savings produced by court budget cuts are exceeded by harmful economic effects (white paper)

The white paper, “The Economics of Justice,” by Eric J. Magnuson, Steven M. Puiszis, Lisa M. Agrimonti, and Nicole S. Frank (DRI, 2014)

Press release: “DRI White Paper: Judicial Funding Cuts Inflict Widespread Economic Harm in Communities

“…. Salaries make up as much as 96 percent of court budgets, the white paper says. Budget cuts result in job losses, diminished tax revenues for local governments, and the increased expense of unemployment benefits.

Cuts also slow resolution of civil cases. The uncertainty caused by pending cases makes businesses reluctant to spend money on equipment, additional employees and expanded product lines, which also affects the local economy, the paper concludes.
….

The Florida study, for example, concluded that the backlog in foreclosure cases caused by underfunding of the state court system resulted in a $9.9 billion annual loss to the state’s economy in direct costs, and an additional $7.2 billion in indirect costs.’ [Link to full ABA news story and White Paper.]

Promoting Access to Justice with Oregon State Bar E-Books (on Amazon)

Oregon State Bar: Promoting Access to Justice with E-Books

The OSB Legal Publications department launched a new project in May that we wanted to tell you about. We have begun offering a series of Family Law e-books on Amazon.com. These e-books include information on how to find and hire a lawyer, as well as links to information about the OSB Lawyer Referral Service, legal aid services in Oregon, and the ABA page on lawyer referral services nationwide….” [Link to full 6/27/14 blogpost.]

Open Law Lab: “People don’t want to talk to lawyers, but they really want legal advice.”

Open Law Lab is a wonderful website, curious, provocative, funny, wise, and more. It stands on its own (enjoy!) but it is also an excellent companion to Richard Zorza’s Access to Justice Blog.

One of my (several) favorite Open Law Lab “images of law” is the blog post titled: Law for Normal People. It includes a graphic with this text that pretty much sums up everything that makes legal self-help center and public law library program management so confounding:

“People don’t want to talk to lawyers, but they really want legal advice. (See its original posting at the Stanford d. school blog, Whiteboard.) And read more about the lawyer / artist: Margaret Hagan.

New Roles for Non-Lawyers to Increase Access to Justice

Richard Zorza & David Udell Article: New Roles for Non-Lawyers to Increase Access to Justice

You can also link to this article from the SRLN website or from Richard Zorza’s Access to Justice blog, where you will be able to find dozens, hundreds, of other practical and provocative articles on Access to Justice issues.

Make the Most of Your Time in Oregon Small Claims Court

The Clackamas Review wrote a great story about our small claims court programs generally (see video) and the Clackamas County Small Claims Court Program specifically!

“Make the most of your time in small-claims court,” by Raymond Rendleman, Clackamas Review, June 9, 2014

Excerpt: “Jennifer Dalglish, the Clackamas County law librarian is dedicated to providing equal access to legal information and legal-research assistance to all citizens, so she is always looking for new and improved ways to do so.

When Laura Orr, the Washington County law librarian, created the small-claims presentation in Washington and Multnomah counties, she reached out and asked if Clackamas County like to host the program too.

Since Dalglish and Oregon City Library Director Maureen Cole had been talking about collaborating on a program for some time, they thought this was the perfect opportunity. Small-claims court is an especially interesting and relevant area of law for everyone – legal professionals and general citizens alike. Since attorneys rarely represent clients in small claims court, there is a great need for information in this area….” [Link to full article.]

Hilarious (and Dark) Side of Automated Court Services: Replacing Courts with Websites

Link from Richard Zorza’s inimitable Access to Justice blog: A Cautionary Tale — Cartoon Points Out the Downsides of Automated Courts

Access to justice and court systems broken (and broke)?

If our courts are broke, how can Californians get divorced? An idea,” by Ted Rall:

Excerpt: “Opinion: If our courts are broke, how can Californians get divorced? An idea….

…. We need a better way. No, not a bigger budget: that would solve the problem and reduce unemployment.

No, what we need is to automate the court system! There are, after all, algorithm-based lie detectors that determine whether you’re telling the truth by analyzing a scan of your face. Since California’s courts handle millions of cases each year, a huge database of precedents can be uploaded and used as a basis to help determine the outcome of new and future matters. And we already know from last year’s trouble-free launch of Obamacare that the Internet is the perfect tool for replacing old-fashioned human-based bureaucracies.

What could go wrong?” [Link to cartoon and commentary.]